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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Sun 22 Jun 2014, 11:10 am

The June Internationals came to an end this weekend and overall there was a familiar feel to the results, with the possible exception of Australia. Certainly results-wise Australia made a grand improvement on their 2013 Lions results. But the closeness of the first two tests in NZ sent the tongues wagging and it's fair to say both SA and Australia will approach their tests with NZ with a great deal of confidence. That said, the first test saw NZ put in a forgettable performance, Australia the second, SA the third. They all found ways to claw back a victory from a poor performance and the fact that they did so against an opposition that was playing very good rugby says a lot about the character of the teams. All three sides have many positives to take out of their tests though. Argentina once again showed that they simply don't have a big enough base to compete year round. They must target certain games and look to dominate those. It's many a bridge too far to ask them to compete in all of their matches.

Here is the scheduling for the RC tests this year.

Date Home Away Venue
16/08/2014 Australia - - New Zealand ANZ Stadium, Sydney
16/08/2014 TBC South Africa Argentina Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
23/08/2014 TBC New Zealand Australia Eden Park, Auckland
23/08/2014 TBC Argentina - - South Africa TBC
06/09/2014 TBC Australia - - South Africa Patersons Stadium, Perth
06/09/2014 TBC New Zealand Argentina McLean Park, Napier
13/09/2014 TBC Australia - - Argentina Skilled Park, Gold Coast
13/09/2014 TBC New Zealand South Africa Westpac Stadium, Wellington
27/09/2014 TBC South Africa Australia Newlands, Cape Town
27/09/2014 TBC Argentina - - New Zealand TBC
04/10/2014 TBC South Africa New Zealand Ellis Park, Johannesburg
04/10/2014 TBC Argentina - - Australia TBC

Australia: Sydney is the key test for Australia. In a way it defines their tournament. In the past two years, they have lost this fixture. There is a sense that there is confidence across the Aussie franchises with the possible exception of the Reds. In a way, the pairing of Genia and Cooper are a microcosm of the Australian side. If they are firing on all cylinders, they prove to be an irresistible combination of confidence and guile. If they don't fire, they can be a liability that can be ruthlessly exposed. There is no guarantee that either one will appear for Australia. Yet like England, the 9, 10, 12, 13 axis that played against France would not be my preference if I were McKenzie. The Aussies showed against France in the first and third tests the threat they are when their forwards get a roll on. Players like Folau are a huge threat when they have time and space. The second test showed though what happens when you close that time and space down. The way to break this Aussie side down has been through its forwards. I see the gameplan of SA, NZ and Argentina won't differ in that approach this year. But the question remains to be seen, is Australia ready to combat that physicality up front this year?

South Africa: There is a lot to be excited about this SA side. Much like Folau, they have a playmaker in Le Roux who is both exciting to watch and night and day and a couple of planets beyond what they had in Kirchner. That breakout try from inside the 22 against Wales yesterday was breathtaking to watch and instead of breaking down in the middle of the field, Le Roux expertly linked up with his outside man to finish off the try. It looked easy what he did at pace but in years gone by such consummate ease was lacking from the SA backline with Kirchner putting his head down and burrowing straight into contact a symptom of brawn winning over brain. There is no doubt that Meyer wants to mix things up but there are still a few question marks. He has a few experienced warriors like Matfield back in the side but with another test against NZ at Ellis Park, will these players be up for some lung-sapping rugby? Is Meyer relying too much on overseas players and will that have an attritional effect on their ability to last 80 minutes at Ellis Park against a NZ side who will be intent on running on that amazing ground?

Argentina: The need for a domestic structure and experience at playing in the S15 seems to be pointed out more glaringly each year. There is much to like about this Argentina side with their set piece but the promise they have shown with their backs has yet to come to full fruition. In their first test away in SA they have shipped a lot of points to SA giving them the perfect start to the tournament with the bonus point. It only seems they react when they come back home, undoubtedly to stinging criticism, that they seem to react. They seem to play their best rugby in wet conditions when they can more easily shut down the opposition and squeeze them into the narrow gameplan that works best for them. In the dry, however, they seem unable to cope with the pace of the game. If I were a NZ administrator, I would schedule the Argentina game in Dunedin where you are guaranteed a dry deck or at least one sheltered from the wintry conditions. They will once again target their home games and the away games in NZ and Australia because that is where they are likely to find conditions best suited to their game.

NZ: England gave them a stern test and that's not a bad thing. Read and Savea are the talisman players of this side and with them we look a lot more threatening. Ben Smith has shown that he can not only score tries from the right wing. He may not kick as much as Dagg but that's not such a bad thing. Folau, Le Roux, Smith and indeed Amorosino have shown their ability to make decisive plays. The question is how the forwards can give them a platform to give them the space they need. Messam may have a great year last year but Kaino has shown these June internationals that 6 is his happy home and he can consistently provide the brute strength that is required to get the upper hand at the breakdown. England showed that a rush defence and closing down NZ's space and getting the upper hand at the breakdown gives you the best chance of beating them. Conversely, they also showed that giving them front foot ball and space for their forwards to link up with their backs is a recipe for disaster. SA are going to come out all guns blazing in the Wellington test (where NZ seems strangely to put in the most consistent attacking performances in recent times) and Australia will give it their all at Sydney. They have yet to see how the NZ team performs under the pressure of needing tournament points and SA in particular will be looking for a bigger advantage going into that Ellis Park test. That said, if Australia can get a victory over NZ, their confidence will skyrocket and anytime an Australian side is full of confidence, that's when your team faces a huge uphill challenge.

So the big 3 all have reasons for optimism based on their June internationals. They have all scored many tries and Australia, in particular, will be heartened by that. However, there is the temptation for false optimism given that France's forwards only fronted in the second test. Of course, that is in part due to Australia and the way they performed but SA, NZ and Argentina will no doubt be poring over the video tapes of that second test to see how they can replicate that performance and look to the first and third tests as a warning of what can happen if they don't get it right. Similarly, NZ, Australia and Argentina will look at that third test and see how Wales got out to that big lead. The SA lineout and rolling maul is a huge weapon and NZ seemed to be able to negate it last year at Ellis Park but you can bet that SA will look to replicate it again and the return of Etzebeth will only reinforce that. And of course teams will look at NZ's first test and see how they can replicate that England performance of shutting down NZ's space with aggressive defence and breakdown work. Different games and different oppositions but the lessons are there to be learned. Argentina, perversely in a way with their three losses, has the advantage of not having any one game to isolate. They were poor in all of their games and the decision to treat games against them lightly is greater for the other 3 teams.

3 teams with high levels of confidence and one team with nothing to lose. Some fascinating tests to come and I for one can't wait for this competition to start. kia kaha

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Sun 22 Jun 2014, 11:50 am

Sorry I forgot Scotland's Air Miles Grab competition is still going and they have a test against SA still to come. Scotland, with their impeccable timing, arrive with a morale boosting last-minute victory against Argentina but face a SA side, who no doubt will come in for stinging criticism of their own last-minute victory.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Sun 22 Jun 2014, 6:00 pm

Good write up Kia, they'll certainly be some fantatsic games to keep us NH types content during the summer months.

Watching the last round of tests you really can't see past NZ yet again to beat all. SA have looked disappointing and a little off from last year. They also have issues with releasing players back to clubs and are going to have to blood to youngsters whcih could backfire.

I think the NZ-Eng series has gave the AB's a kick up the backside. They generally start a little rusty but had to wake up fast due to England seriously threatening them. They blew us away in the 3rd test and the score flattered England. Fekitoa looks like a real talent and I fancy him to star in the later stages.

Aus are a funny one. They've kind of slipped under the radar a little with some solid performances against France. They look more solid than recent years and could have unearthed a few gems in Skelton & Foley, they may take a few scalps home and away.

Should be a great competition.

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Post by Biltong on Sun 22 Jun 2014, 6:20 pm

It seems all three teams (Argentina excluded as they didn't play their best XV) had hiccups along the way.

Having said that, at times all three of them were exemplary in attack for certain periods, but it is worthy noting that none of them have put together an 80 minute performance, and all three of them have shown when the opposition fronts up they still have work to do.

From an SA perspective it is the injury list that is a concern.

Pat Lambie, Eben Etzebeth and Pieter Steph du Toit the most notables.

Lambie is returning in July, but I will bet my house (not really) that Morne (the sleeping metronome) will be first choice.

Etzebeth might return in time, but ai think Pieter Steph du Toit is out for the season.

We still have work to do at the breakdowns and technically I am not convinced our defensive efforts are good enough.

At this point hard to say what is going to happen as Meyer is a closed book.
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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Sun 22 Jun 2014, 6:32 pm

It's also worth noting that it's the beginning of the season and all teams will be peaking nearer to September and October. The question is who derived the most benefit from the June series?

Last year the Lions provided Australia with the sternest opposition but that didn't appear to help them in any way. Indeed, losing the series probably did more psychological damage as it wasn't until the away match in Argentina, the extra Bledisloe and the subsequent November tour where Australia really got that spring back in their step. Their lowest point was the Argentina match at home. This year, that confidence will be right from the get go as they responded well to the Melbourne test.

You could argue that England pushed NZ the most but each game NZ seemed to get better in terms of performance. Australia would've dearly loved to have played NZ after the Eden Park test but it appears the cobwebs are mostly blown away now.

I agree BB, all three SH giants showed they can do damage on attack but all three showed to varying degrees that they can be silenced. The S15 disrupts the international calendar for a while and which teams will make their return in August with the least amount of rust and how many of the teams will be affected by injury from now until the close of the S15?

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Post by Scratch on Sun 22 Jun 2014, 7:32 pm

Eng didn't push NZ anywhere near as far as Wale did yesterday to SA. And though France are clearly melting down, for me the Aussies will be the surprise package. If SA play anywhere near as naively as they did v Wales against Aus and NZ they will be blown away. It's NZ's to lose in my opinion but i think Aus will have a fantastic series and push them.

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Post by emack2 on Sun 22 Jun 2014, 7:49 pm

Impossible to judge 4Ns until the time june tests prove little because of the timing and
injury problems.
Only Super Rugby gives some clues but this year former champs Chiefs,Reds,Stormers have
had poor year this.
Injuries will govern things as usual but speaking for NZ usually 1st test is flaky even lost
2009 France the last.[June tests].2nd better and the 3rd a blow out often historically.
What has amazed and annoyed me is Media writing off Cruden,Cory jane and McCaw
because they are short of game time coming off injuries.
Especially the Chris rattue hatchett job on McCaw ,who has changed his role in the back
row from a fetcher/link man to a grafter as did Michael Jones/Richard Hill.It was reminiscent
of that on Colin Meads 1970/1.
McCaw 146 games ,14 lost.1 draw the rest wins,IRB nominated player of the year 4 times
[holder 3].After his sabbatical 2012 played his best for years and was by miles best player
in World 2012 despite DC winning it.Won a RWC with a broken foot 2013/14 injury prone
a bit.At 33 he`s slowed down wow what Einstein worked that out.
Injuries to players like Savea,Dagg,Romano,Piutau,Cane,Read,Conrad Smith have effected selections.
As to Carter being finished that's debatable and of course the older members will be
replaced at some point.Ditto for the Bok senior citizens all who are professional enough
to go if it effects there team.
Beauden Barrett maybe the form 10 in Super Rugby,similar claims could be made about
Colin Slade.BUT World s best? how many tests has he actually started?
Aron Smith`s service after the likes of Cowan great defender but a poor passer of the
ball.
As to RWC only really SBW and Hosae Gear will be in the running besides the usual training squad.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Sun 22 Jun 2014, 8:42 pm

Can't wait to see SBW back.

In a way I would have liked to see England take on SA. The way they played against Wales I would have fancied a comfortable tour victory for us. That 3rd test against NZ has dented our confidence a little, could be good thing though, we could have persevered with Eastmond and he's clearly not good enough.

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Post by Biltong on Sun 22 Jun 2014, 9:22 pm

Haha, comfortable tour victory for England if they played SA?

Unfounded conjecture which cannot be proven or disproved.
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Post by Taylorman on Sun 22 Jun 2014, 9:32 pm

Be an interesting match up given the fact that both sides have opened up since they last met. But until England win its pure conjecture.

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Mon 23 Jun 2014, 8:40 am

Given England played a series in SA and it was a comfortable victory for them with the draw at the end, it seems unlikely that England could turn that around with a comfortable tour victory of their own. As Tman mentioned, both sides have rounded their game significantly since that tour and SA have England as their last match (or at least England's last match) of the November tour. That will prove to be a good guide at how well the sides have progressed. NZ plays England after playing in Chicago and I'm not sure that's the best preparation.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. We're speculating on what might happen in the RC and though you're quite right Alan that it's still too early to say what will happen, let's not remind ourselves of the fact that there's one and a half months until we get to see test rugby again.

There's excitement over the ditch at this Skelton boy, but it seems he's only got 40 - 50 minutes in him at test level with his fitness. That said, he's the type of player who might only do three or four things of note but they might all lead to points being scored. Certainly one to keep an eye on and at 2m and 140 kg it's not difficult to do!

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Post by Biltong on Mon 23 Jun 2014, 8:48 am

Yeah, the Aussie media does enjoy a good frenzy about a player.
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Post by Taylorman on Mon 23 Jun 2014, 8:49 am

ABs take the bigger they are the harder they fall approach Kia. We're into mobility and his presence has plusses and minuses for them. Hes hardly going to be getting across to knock wingers out so it swings and roundabouts.

My issue with SA this year is something Biltong said earlier. This year theres a large number of overseas club players coming back to play. Assuming theyre playing the NH season and then continuing on with Bok rugby they'll be stuffed if theyre playing every week.

That can't be good.

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Mon 23 Jun 2014, 9:05 am

Biltong wrote:Yeah, the Aussie media does enjoy a good frenzy about a player.

I guess they have to make waves to attract some media attention to compete with more high profile sports. After the display in Melbourne, I'm sure their focus is getting bums on seats for the Sydney game. It seems like a home game for us with the number of expats in the crowd.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Mon 23 Jun 2014, 9:06 am

Thoughts on Fekitoa NZ boys?

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Mon 23 Jun 2014, 9:12 am

We're lucky to have a replacement for Smith. Ben Smith is no centre and talk of Piutau is wishful thinking as well. We need specialists especially for integral positions like OC.

He shows great promise but he has much to learn. That is a good thing but we cannot expect him to step up to Conrad's ability straight away. It needs time as Tman always says and he can continue to get game time here and there and absorb the more subtle roles of his position. A backup pairing of SBW and Fekitoa for a RWC is a useful combination to call upon.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Mon 23 Jun 2014, 9:30 am

That would be a scary combo Kia. Imagine Fekitoa running off SBW's shoulder!

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Post by Nematode on Mon 23 Jun 2014, 11:40 am

This seems to have the making of the best Rugby Championship there has ever been. It's incredibly tight between NZ, SA, AU but looming in the dark is the underdog, Argentina. Don't be fooled by their losses. They played a very large squad full of inexperienced players (not their starting XV for the RC definitely), yet pushed a very strong Irish team.

Given New Zealand were able to win 3-0 against a very string England side, I would expect them to win but SA and AU are certainly going to be stern opposition. Would be surprised if any of the NZ AU SA games were outwith 5-10 points.

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 9:55 am

Referees have been announced:

August 16
Australia v New Zealand at ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite, Stuart Berry
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

South Africa v Argentina at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: John Lacey
Assistant Referees: Steve Walsh, Marius Mitrea
TMO: Simon McDowell

August 23
New Zealand v Australia at Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Romain Poite
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper, Stuart Berry
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

Argentina v South Africa at Padre Ernesto Martearena Stadium, Salta
Referee: Steve Walsh
Assistant Referees: John Lacey, Marius Mitrea
TMO: Vinny Munro

September 6
Australia v South Africa at Patersons Stadium, Perth
Referee: George Clancy
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson, Mike Fraser
TMO: Ben Skeen

New Zealand v Argentina at McLean Park, Napier
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès, Rohan Hoffmann
TMO: Peter Marshall

September 13
Australia v Argentina at Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Referees: George Clancy, Mike Fraser
TMO: Ben Skeen

New Zealand v South Africa at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Jérôme Garcès
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gaüzère, Rohan Hoffmann
TMO: Peter Marshall

September 27
South Africa v Australia at Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Nigel Owens
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes, Mathieu Raynal
TMO: Graham Hughes

Argentina v New Zealand at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, Buenos Aires
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès, Leighton Hodges
TMO: Deon van Blommestein

October 4
South Africa v New Zealand at Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gaüzère, JP Doyle
TMO: Graham Hughes

Argentina v Australia at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza
Referee: Nigel Owens
Assistant Referees: Craig Joubert, Leighton Hodges
TMO: Deon van Blommestein

Bledisloe Cup

October 18
Australia v New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper, Marius van der Westhuizen
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

Is it just me or is there a touch of a ref of two halves about these appointments. It seems Owens gets to be shared around with Australia this year after he presided over two cracking games with NZ: Ireland and SA. There do seem to be quite a few ref appointments that raise eyebrows for me and hope we are not plagued with the controversey of last year and have games more like Owens where the emphasis is on the game rather than the officiating. I have my doubts though...

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Post by SecretFly on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 9:58 am

Argentina will probably go ahead and win it this year...now that they've settled in.

....................................... what? Well, someone has to do the devil's advocate stuff.

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Post by fa0019 on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 12:06 pm

I like the look AUS this year. Their forwards look more settled and if Skelton plays you ain't going to nudge that pack.

I think they can compete with SA for 2nd spot and should be looking to beat them at home.

SA looks a little stale for me. Little direction, injuries yes but the team looks like it could be going backwards. Had England played a 3 test tour I would have backed them to have won the series, they look vunerable to the very best.

I don't see anyone beating NZ though.

SA won't challenge NZ in NZ and with it all to play for in the final match of the tournament (In SA vs NZ) I fear SA will have to play catch up from the first minute to even stand a chance and that will allow NZ to bide their time and wait for the space to come their way as SA push the boat out.

I simply don't like the look of the boks att he moment... the wrong personnel in the wrong positions for me. worrying.

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Post by MMaaxx on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 1:29 pm

It is funny how everyone is seriously rating this England side which has achieved little and failed when it matters most.

All the talk of depth etc is over played. All the bigger teams have decent cover. What matters is the amount of truly world class (hate that term but....) players can be put out in the starting side.

Man for man SA still has the edge on England in most positions.

The biggest strength about England is the coaching and that they are playing a certain style that the whole team has bought into.

Onto the RC: I expect SA to win all at home, take NZ close, sneak a win in Aus and I hope beat Arg convincingly away. The table might come down to BP's, points scored etc

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Post by bluestonevedder on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 1:57 pm

I'm really looking forward to this Championship. Australia are simmering away nicely and look set to boil soon. SA look physical, though it's a shame they're going to be missing some key players.

NZ look to have found their feet after a slow start against England. If SA can contain the high tempo NZ showed in the 3rd test, it could certainly make things interesting. Typically the Bok tackling is strong (far stronger than England's was in the 3rd), so we might see a bit of a grind.


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Post by Biltong on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 2:54 pm

I think this RC s going to be very physical, NZ as more skill in hand in their forwards, SA make up for that with physicality, and OZ seems to have gone our route, trying to beef up their pack.

Argentina is always physical, so it will be interesting to see how injury free we all are at the end of the year.
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Post by bluestonevedder on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 3:09 pm

Will Skelton vs. Etzebeth would have been interesting Biltong!

Oh well. We'll just have to settle for Skelton against Alberts and Burger. LAME.

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Post by fa0019 on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 3:55 pm

Skelton is not the finished article. Needs to lose about 10kg to become an enforcer type and to be honest he doesn't have that temperament. He's a gentle ball playing giant not a enforcer like Johnson, Bakkies, Thorn etc.

The reason people see so much potential in him is that he can actually play rugby not simply charge around the field looking for trouble.

Maxx - In terms of England if you look at them they look pretty impressive. A young team with lots of depth as the NZ tour showed. They are on the up and 15 months is a long time in rugby... inc. the rugby world cup that's near 20 matches before the RWC final if they get there.

SA for all that they have just don't look like they're going in the right direction. Selection and strategy looks mis-judged and for me Meyer showed great weakness in their Soweto classic last year.
Great game but they openly went for it. That didn't do them any good in reality.... not when they had lost the 4 previous matches.

With this side they won't get close to them in NZ in the 1st match and the last match will be the same as Soweto... the final match and they will only be in it if they get maximum points etc.

Means SA will have 0 wins from 6 vs. NZ up to the RWC year. What confidence can the players take from that leading up the RWC? Literally none.

If the same applies, take the win, lose the championship.. but I can't see Meyer changing.

Sometimes I wish that PDV was at the helm oncemore. Smile

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Post by Biltong on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 4:32 pm

bluestonevedder wrote:Will Skelton vs. Etzebeth would have been interesting Biltong!

Oh well. We'll just have to settle for Skelton against Alberts and Burger. LAME.
etzebeth will be back mate, he is almost ready. Wink

FA, I think you are being too negative, injuries have forced Meyer's hand over this June period.

Look at the squad he has built thus far.

Props
Beast
Jannie
Lourens adriaanse
Coenie oosthuizen
Frans malherbe
Trevor nyakane

Hooker
Bismarck
Adriaan

Locks
Etzebeth
Pieter Steph du Toit
Lood de Jager
Flip v d Merwe
Vicki
Bakkies

Backrow

Willem
Frans louw
Schalk burger
Arno botha
Siya kolisi
Marcell coetzee
Duane vermeulen

Scrum half
Fourie du Preez
Ruan Pienaar

Flyhalf

Pat Lambie
Johan Goosen
morne Steyn
Handre Pollard

Midfield

Jean de Villiers
Jaque Fourie
JJ Engelbrecht
Jan serfontein
Paul Jordaan
Sibaru Sithole
Damien de Allende

Back three
Willie le Roux
JP Pietersen
bryan Habana
Cornal Hendricks
Lwazi Mvovo
Bjorn Basson
Hougaard

The only real issue is scrum half , that is the one real weakness in his development. But to his credit there are a fair few players that can fit in more than one position.
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Post by fa0019 on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 4:46 pm

ITs not just the players which has got me concerned BB, its the approach.

Can JDV really last up to world cup, can Victor, can Schalk and even Du Preez and Habana???

I would have to say doubtful on near all of them bar Habana who is having an Indian summer to his career.

Its thats the case there is your leadership core right there. Strip it out and you are left threadbare and bang we have the John Smit scenario all over again * 5.

The problem Meyer has is he lacks bravery and foresight. First JDV and now Matfield, he can never take 1 step back to take 2 forward... its not conservatism, its slow suicide.

What I want them to do is get to a stage that in 15 months time, the best players in the position hold the jersey and have the experience and leadership to take on the ABs. I simply don't see that happening at the moment.

Being better than everyone else bar NZ is not good enough for Meyer. His record vs. NZ is beyond dire and that really should be his only benchmark with the RWC.

If I could get a winning record vs. NZ in a RWC cycle up to the start of the RWC itself I would say to hell with any titles that could come the boks way and to hell with any losses to teams like England, Australia, France, Wales or Ireland.

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Post by bluestonevedder on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 4:57 pm

Biltong wrote:
bluestonevedder wrote:Will Skelton vs. Etzebeth would have been interesting Biltong!

Oh well. We'll just have to settle for Skelton against Alberts and Burger. LAME.
etzebeth will be back mate, he is almost ready. Wink

FA, I think you are being too negative, injuries have forced Meyer's hand over this June period.

Look at the squad he has built thus far.

Props
Beast
Jannie
Lourens adriaanse
Coenie oosthuizen
Frans malherbe
Trevor nyakane

Hooker
Bismarck
Adriaan

Locks
Etzebeth
Pieter Steph du Toit
Lood de Jager
Flip v d Merwe
Vicki
Bakkies

Backrow

Willem
Frans louw
Schalk burger
Arno botha
Siya kolisi
Marcell coetzee
Duane vermeulen

Scrum half
Fourie du Preez
Ruan Pienaar

Flyhalf

Pat Lambie
Johan Goosen
morne Steyn
Handre Pollard

Midfield

Jean de Villiers
Jaque Fourie
JJ Engelbrecht
Jan serfontein
Paul Jordaan
Sibaru Sithole
Damien de Allende

Back three
Willie le Roux
JP Pietersen
bryan Habana
Cornal Hendricks
Lwazi Mvovo
Bjorn Basson
Hougaard

The only real issue is scrum half , that is the one real weakness in his development. But to his credit there are a fair few players that can fit in more than one position.

Glad to hear it!

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Post by Biltong on Thu 26 Jun 2014, 5:28 pm

For now let's just develop players and get our processes in order, we'll worry about the selections of the RWC when we get there.
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Post by Taylorman on Fri 27 Jun 2014, 1:15 am

bluestonevedder wrote:I'm really looking forward to this Championship. Australia are simmering away nicely and look set to boil soon. SA look physical, though it's a shame they're going to be missing some key players.

NZ look to have found their feet after a slow start against England. If SA can contain the high tempo NZ showed in the 3rd test, it could certainly make things interesting. Typically the Bok tackling is strong (far stronger than England's was in the 3rd), so we might see a bit of a grind.


SA's tackling was the primary reason NZ was able to score 'soft' tries at Ellis last year. There's was more the one on one misses of the type I think English posters are suggesting in the 3rd test, which I believe was more about reducing the English midfield to spectators, the result being poor old Ashton having to handle Savea, when it should never have come to that.

But both SA and Englands woes were due to tackling as individuals in the end. That's just what the AB game is designed to do. Beat defences, individually and collectively.

How England and SA face off vs each other will be interesting, both in the process of opening up their game.

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Post by Taylorman on Sat 28 Jun 2014, 10:29 pm

The Summer tours were generally convincing affairs for the 3 main RC aspirants, all 3 having really comfortable wins mixed with a reasonably close one at some poit.

Australia look the biggest improvers from last year due to their Superxv sides- particularly the tahs, the likely W's template, being much more competitive.

SA are all over the place selection wise having to recruit from a wide range of areas- the past- in Matfield and Burger...FDP in a way as well- overseas= the Steyns etc, and now the under 20's and Varsity cup with Pollard and co. (as well as the sxv sides of course).

Despite that Meyer has been able to bring them altogether as a formidable team and he deserves a lot of respect for the lengths he is prepared to go to to get a winning side out on the park. How long he can keep doing this will be watched with interest but with now 16 from 18 wins this side will not be taken lightly in any way, shape or form.

NZ has probably changed less than the other two sides and looks to have settled on its world cup squad with its existing wider squad. Other than Piatau, Romanos, DC and maybe SBW, I cant see any new squad members next year.

So for the ABs its more about fine tuning, getting the systems, combos right and focussing on the accuracy and intensity stakes. Versus England they started off key but with time together clicked more frequently as the series unfolded, and building that sort of momentum is the key to success over the next 15 months, starting with the RC.

Can the ABs maintain the 100% RC record? I believe they can, purely because it was just as unlikely last year as this, and they overcame the hurdles at the right times, and as an AB fan its important to believe that those heights can be reached again. But like last year, its a tall ask, and chances are match/es will be lost, but regardless they can certainly win this again, if not so easily as the last two.

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Sun 29 Jun 2014, 11:55 am

To me, the winning team will bring their talisman players to the fore. For SA, that is obviously Le Roux and Australia Folau. For NZ, it's probably Read and Savea. That doesn't mean there aren't contributors like Ben Smith, Hooper or Cummins, Habana or Bismark etc but all of those sides will be wanting to bring those talisman players into play as much as often because that's how points are scored and you apply or relieve pressure by scoring meat pies. One cannot underestimate what Le Roux does to ignite that Bok backline and with that enormous back row of theirs, there are plenty of offload opportunities where he can prove devastating as a link man to keep those plays going. Australia will be hoping their big rig can be an equal threat to send Folau into open spaces. Similarly, NZ will be hoping Read can wreak havoc with Savea on the fringes. Nullify those threats and shut down the broken play threats as much as possible and you'll go a long way to getting the win. The weather and Argentina are the levellers and will prove the key to how many bonus points the teams accrue before the crunch matches at the end.

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Tue 01 Jul 2014, 1:43 pm

Du Preez picked up an injury against Scotland that will see him out of the RC. Will Meyer try some young talent now because Hougaard in my opinion is not a test scrumhalf. He has pace but he doesn't have a passing game and a combination with Morné Steyn is a terrifying one if you're a Bok supporter.

Meyer should treat this as a chance to blood new talent and accept that there will be issues with the halves in the short-term but they are preferred to not having exposed any talent underneath the veteran players. Aaron Smith is still a work in progress two years on, for example, but proof that if you give a player a chance, he can quickly settle into a team and make a positive contribution on the whole.

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Post by profitius on Tue 01 Jul 2014, 2:25 pm

For all the talk of the Boks, they're still some way off the ABs IMO.

McKenzie looks to have turned the Aussie ship around and they're looking good again. Moore will be a big loss though. Not sure about Skelton either.

The odds are once again stacked against Argentina. They might cause a surprise at home but I wouldn't bet on it.
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Post by Biltong on Tue 01 Jul 2014, 2:48 pm

profitius wrote:For all the talk of the Boks, they're still some way off the ABs IMO.

I think we'll have to wait and see, tough to say at this stage whether they are far behind or not.
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Post by Comfort on Tue 01 Jul 2014, 3:56 pm

I think the ABs and South Africa have shown they have gears to step up, but they are human like any other teams and rustiness/complacency can affeect performance. NZ took a while to get going in the face of a great showing from England, South Arica tore Wales apart then sat back a bit and probably didnt expect the raise in intensity that Wales mustered.

Still, both series being a whitewash says it all despite the scares and hence my opinion of having that extra gear in all aspects....

Australia have settled since last year and are regaining confidence. They're unearthing a few new faces but still seem a little brittle if things dont go their way, I dont think they'll be able to compete for the title with the other 2 if they both play to their potential.

Argentina look to be the whipping boys again and unfortunately I think thats the way it'll stay until big changes are made for them (in structure/leagues etc).

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Post by nganboy on Thu 03 Jul 2014, 10:14 am

Pretty hard for Argentina essentially playing the top 3 countries in a tournament year after year. Has any team beaten 3 higher ranked teams to win the world cup?
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Post by Taylorman on Thu 03 Jul 2014, 10:53 pm

Biltong wrote:
profitius wrote:For all the talk of the Boks, they're still some way off the ABs IMO.

I think we'll have to wait and see, tough to say at this stage whether they are far behind or not.

A lot depends on how the Matfields and co go at the higher pace really, and how Pollard thrives. 10's been a real drawback for SA since 2010 vs the ABs as none have really stepped up to allow the Boks to get their best game going. Theyve got a really good side and Meyer is really getting to know the ABs. Fascinating matches this year and no idea we're theyre both at.

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 5:53 am

Sad news to hear the Honey Badger is off to Japan. A real character in a world of bland, rehearsed soundbites. This guy really stood out and he'll be sorely missed.

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Post by Biltong on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 6:15 am

Taylorman wrote:
Biltong wrote:
profitius wrote:For all the talk of the Boks, they're still some way off the ABs IMO.

I think we'll have to wait and see, tough to say at this stage whether they are far behind or not.

A lot depends on how the Matfields and co go at the higher pace really, and how Pollard thrives. 10's been a real drawback for SA since 2010 vs the ABs as none have really stepped up to allow the Boks to get their best game going. Theyve got a really good side and Meyer is really getting to know the ABs. Fascinating matches this year and no idea we're theyre both at.

I would disagree with you on none at ten have stepped up, you only had Morne Steyn against the top teams, Lambie and Goosen never got a fair shot
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Post by whocares on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 8:26 am

kiakahaaotearoa wrote:Sad news to hear the Honey Badger is off to Japan. A real character in a world of bland, rehearsed soundbites. This guy really stood out and he'll be sorely missed.

what?? shocking news. Australia should really have found a way to keep their most iconic player.

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Post by Biltong on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 8:29 am

whocares wrote:
kiakahaaotearoa wrote:Sad news to hear the Honey Badger is off to Japan. A real character in a world of bland, rehearsed soundbites. This guy really stood out and he'll be sorely missed.

what?? shocking news. Australia should really have found a way to keep their most iconic player.

There is a bit more to the story than that.

There are reports that his dad is very ill and he needs to make more money, so the ARU has released him but he might still play super rugby next year, even if he misses a few games, which means he could still possibly be available for the Wallabies
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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 8:54 am

Fair play to the ARU for releasing him early from his contract given his motivations for leaving but they'll be frustrated at losing a very capable winger. Wish him and his old man the best for the future.

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Post by GunsGerms on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 9:42 am

Biltong wrote:
whocares wrote:
kiakahaaotearoa wrote:Sad news to hear the Honey Badger is off to Japan. A real character in a world of bland, rehearsed soundbites. This guy really stood out and he'll be sorely missed.

what?? shocking news. Australia should really have found a way to keep their most iconic player.

There is a bit more to the story than that.

There are reports that his dad is very ill and he needs to make more money, so the ARU has released him but he might still play super rugby next year, even if he misses a few games, which means he could still possibly be available for the Wallabies

Strange the way Aussie rugby is struggling when Australia has one of the most bouyent economies in the world. I know it is because other sports are more popular but Aussies have a ridiculous amount of disposable income. Surely the ARU should be able to boost their coffers easily enough.

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 9:56 am

Things are not so buoyant there now GG. Raw materials especially iron ore have fallen dramatically in price and that is expected to drop further. Couple that with the slowdown in India and notably China and Oz's trade deficit is widening. Actually the buoyant economy now is over the ditch with the Christchurch rebuild and the housing market driving things.

Rugby has always struggled for money and a profitable audience in Australia. The NRC might help but that's more a pipeline dream and the lure of Japan and Europe will always see some talent disappear from Oz and NZ.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 11:46 am

Biltong wrote:
whocares wrote:
kiakahaaotearoa wrote:Sad news to hear the Honey Badger is off to Japan. A real character in a world of bland, rehearsed soundbites. This guy really stood out and he'll be sorely missed.

what?? shocking news. Australia should really have found a way to keep their most iconic player.

There is a bit more to the story than that.

There are reports that his dad is very ill and he needs to make more money, so the ARU has released him but he might still play super rugby next year, even if he misses a few games, which means he could still possibly be available for the Wallabies
There's this

However, it is believed Cummins is moving overseas to help his large family, which has recently been devastated by illness. Cummins’ father Mark, Queensland’s Father of the Year in 2012, is battling prostate cancer while his younger siblings, Joe, 16, and Lizzy, 21, have both been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8869939

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Post by whocares on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 12:27 pm

Rugby Fan wrote:
Biltong wrote:
whocares wrote:
kiakahaaotearoa wrote:Sad news to hear the Honey Badger is off to Japan. A real character in a world of bland, rehearsed soundbites. This guy really stood out and he'll be sorely missed.

what?? shocking news. Australia should really have found a way to keep their most iconic player.

There is a bit more to the story than that.

There are reports that his dad is very ill and he needs to make more money, so the ARU has released him but he might still play super rugby next year, even if he misses a few games, which means he could still possibly be available for the Wallabies
There's this

However, it is believed Cummins is moving overseas to help his large family, which has recently been devastated by illness. Cummins’ father Mark, Queensland’s Father of the Year in 2012, is battling prostate cancer while his younger siblings, Joe, 16, and Lizzy, 21, have both been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8869939

apologies. did not know the background. read his dad is also moving and the japanese club will provide full treatment to his cancer in one of the best facility in Japan. family first. big respect to Nick Cummins.

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Post by ebop on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 1:00 pm

Massive call for the guy but he can hold his head high for making this decision and taking on the responsibility. Wish the badger and his family the best of luck, what a dude.
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Post by disneychilly on Fri 04 Jul 2014, 3:18 pm

Will miss the Badger's post match. It's so nice and refreshing to see guys take the michael during interviews. Why shouldn't they enjoy that part of their role as well and be able to inject some life into a cliche filled environment whose main aim is to wait for someone to speak out of turn in order to sensationalise it.

Good luck to Cummins too. At least he's not in a position where Australia have a dearth of talent. Great that his club will sort out his dad's treatment. He'll be back I reckon. But his family is worth more than any jersey he'll wear so big ups to the man.

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